Words like ‘empowerment,’ ‘equality,’ ‘feminism,’ can sound so big that sometimes it’s hard to gauge the first step in joining such a dynamic and quickly growing global movement. You might be wondering – as a man, what can I do to have a meaningful impact in the fight for gender equality?
As a proud ambassador of Women for Women International, I'm learning a lot about how men can take an active role in this fight without, well, without falling back into many of the same old behaviours that feminism is liberating us (all) from.
Change often begins with taking small, simple steps. To get you started, I've broken down 5 actions you can take today to become an ally for empowerment.
One of the easiest ways to start to take part is to listen – really listen – to what women have to say. It sounds so simple, but often we are listening to respond – subconsciously preparing our answer, counter point, or rebuttal – instead of trying to understand the other person’s point of view.
This is a skill that is actively developed through Women for Women International’s couples' dialogue sessions – where husbands and wives have the opportunity to sit down and share how their lives look from different perspectives and create solutions together.
I saw the impact of this first-hand during my trip visiting the programme in Kosovo earlier this year and was inspired to see truly transformative change taking place before my eyes.
2. Speak up
Picture this: it’s Friday night and you’re out enjoying the beginning of the weekend. Your friend shares a story about a woman he’s recently met and uses a blatantly sexist word to describe her. What do you do?
It can be uncomfortable to raise this – especially among friends – but the words we choose speak volumes (both literally and figuratively) about how we view women. They set the standard for what’s acceptable.
Chances are you’re not the only one thinking it and – whether it’s a sister, mother, daughter, partner – once we start thinking of these words being applied to people we know and care about it’s a game-changer.
Pause. Reflect. Be brave. Speak up. There will likely be resistance, especially if you're in a group and the person is put on the spot; it may be more effective to change the subject and find time to talk to the person on their own - and in a different setting.
There are many women writers who have penned fantastic books celebrating what empowerment means to them in all its diversity, honesty and dynamism. These books will inject some fearless and feminist voices into your daily life and expand your horizons.
If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend 50 Shades of Feminism edited by Lisa Appignanesi, Rachel Holmes and Susie Orbach. It's an anthology that brings together a unique array of contributors, from politicians to actors to scientists, who each reflect on what feminism means to them. Diversify - Six Degrees of Integration by June Sarpong also provides great motivation to start the day with a spur to action. Happy reading!
5. Sponsor A Sister
To create change, we need to fight a battle for gender equality on all fronts. Could you sponsor a woman through Women for Women International’s training programme over the next 12 months, and give her a life-changing opportunity?
Your gift of £22 per month provides her with the tools she needs to rebuild her life with a focus on her rights, economic empowerment and physical as well as emotional well-being.
Sponsor a woman survivor of war today and let’s stand together in raising the voices of women survivors of war who have experienced the unimaginable.
Back in June, we held our #SheInspiresMe LIVE event, packed with great speakers, workshops, and discussions. We compiled this reading list for everyone who is looking to further explore their ideas, learn something new, or needs a gentle nudge to get started on their plan of action.
"Building a personal connection with my sponsor sister, Amela, became a source of strength for me." Our Executive Director, Brita Fernandez Schmidt shares the story of meeting her first sponsor sister and the very real impact of our programme.
This World Humanitarian Day, we are reminded of our shared responsibility to support those caught up in global crises. Find out three ways you can exercise your humanitarianism from our Executive Director, Brita Fernandez Schmidt.